- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 14, 2001

The University of Maryland signed an eight-year, $16 million marketing deal with Viacom Outdoor Sports Marketing that will help nearly double corporate sponsorship of the school's athletic department.
In the deal, Phoenix-based Viacom will be the sole source of sponsorship sales for Maryland athletics as the university prepares to open the $101 million Comcast Center next year. Maryland will receive an annual fee, and the two parties will share sponsorship revenue. But more important to school officials, just one company will be the athletic department's sales arm.
"Now we have one entity out selling Maryland," said Rob Mullens, associate athletic director. "Before, for example, we had one outfit selling our radio ads, a second doing the programs, a third selling the Web site. It got to be counterproductive, particularly when they were all targeting the same company."
Much of the sales effort, predictably, will center around the men's basketball team, Maryland's most prominent athletic program. With the team at Cole Field House, the athletic department generated $1.5 million last year in corporate sponsorship, not counting the 10-year, $20 million naming rights agreement struck with Comcast for the new arena.
With Viacom taking over all department sales by July 1 next year and the arena opening four months later, Mullens said as much as $2.8 million in annual sponsorship is possible. Also being sold will be spots during TV shows featuring football coach Ralph Friedgen and men's basketball coach Gary Williams.
"That elevation has already been budgeted in our long-range planning since we obviously have more [sponsorship] inventory to sell in the new building," Mullens said. "But beyond dollars, we expect this relationship to help raise the profile of the university."
The deal also includes a two-year, $4 million extension.
Viacom, formerly Infinity Sports Marketing, also will help with negotiations for the university's radio contracts. Pacts with WMAL-AM, WBAL-AM and WTEM-AM all expire next June.
Viacom holds similar marketing pacts with Virginia and Arizona State.

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